What if the marsh badgers only have two …?
4th March 2012: What will be happening in and around the marsh badgers’ setts during March? Well … the first thing to note is that the marsh badgers’ cubs will be born this month, if they haven’t been born already. Usually monogamous, the boars might mate with the same sows for life. A sow will, typically, give birth to between one and five cubs at a time. In large setts, dominant sows have been known to kill the cubs of subordinate sows, to help ensure the survival of their own offspring. More than 50% of cubs are sired by boars from different family groups.
Badgers are powerful animals, but they have a docile nature; if threatened, though, they can be extremely vicious. Their only predator is man. People needn’t be afraid of badgers, but it is wise to give them a wide berth. Wounded badgers should not be approached, but they must be reported to the local badger group, or to the police, as soon as possible.
Badgers are highly sociable and incredibly tolerant creatures that excavate and live in complex underground sett systems, which are passed from one generation to the next. Badgers are clean living animals, regularly replacing bedding materials and ensuring that any loose materials are removed from the sett. Living in family groups averaging six adults, although groups of twenty plus have been recorded, they will even tolerate foxes living in redundant chambers within their sett.
Some people will already be aware that badgers eat worms, slugs, snails, and roots, and may be surprised to learn that they will also eat mice, moles, rats, ducklings, fish, reptiles and most other small animals. Badgers dig young rabbits out of their holes, pulling them inside out, eating the meat and leaving the rest of the carcass with its skin attached. Kills are eaten on the spot and are not carried back to the sett. It is said that a badger will kill and eat lambs, Chickens, game birds and hedgehogs – usually in sheer desperation, if food is scarce during February and March. Badgers are very effective predators and foragers.
When faced with particularly hard winters, badgers might spend November to March asleep in their setts. This is not hibernation because their metabolic rate is not depressed, but they are fueled during this sleep period by fat reserves built-up during late summer. They will emerge in March. Before starting their winter sleep, the badger will block their sett entrances and exits with dead branches and leaves.